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Bills add Ed Reed to defensive staff

Rex Ryan reached into his coaching past to add a surefire Hall-of-Famer to his Buffalo Bills staff.

Ed Reed, who established himself as one of the top safeties in NFL history as a member of the Baltimore Ravens when Ryan was their defensive line coach and then defensive coordinator, agreed in principle Wednesday to become the Bills’ assistant defensive backs coach.

“Ed Reed is going to be such a great asset to our team,” Ryan said in a press release from the Bills. “First off, having spent time with Ed in Baltimore and then” for the final seven games of Reed’s career “in New York” when Ryan was head coach of the Jets, “I can attest to the incredibly high level of professionalism he is going to bring with him to Buffalo.

“All of the things he’s done throughout his entire playing career, such as how he studies film, preparing throughout the week for game days, and things like that, he will impress upon our players. Obviously, he’s played in this system at a MVP-caliber level and he’s a real student of the game. I think he’s going to be a phenomenal coach and I truly believe our players are going to love learning from him.”

Despite announcing Tuesday that defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson was not returning to the team, the Bills will have no shortage of coaching attention devoted to their secondary. Fox Sports reported that, as a result of Ryan hiring his twin brother, Rob, as assistant head coach/defense Sunday, defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman would be more involved with the defensive backs. The Bills also have defensive backs coach Tim McDonald on their staff.

During a 12-year NFL playing career that ended in 2013, Reed was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection and a first-team All-Pro five times. He was the league’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2004.

Reed, who was an important contributor to the Ravens’ Super Bowl XLVII victory against the San Francisco 49ers, was long recognized for his thorough film study and ability to keep an expansive mental notebook of opponents’ tendencies.

Few defensive backs did a better job of baiting quarterbacks into throwing interceptions, as reflected by the 64 he had (sixth-most in NFL history) and his all-time leading total of 1,590 interception return yards.

Reed was credited with 699 total tackles, six sacks, 154 passes defended, 12 forced fumbles, and 10 fumble recoveries.